Wear Sunscreen: Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young

Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young.

June 1, 1997

Inside every adult lurks a graduation speaker dying to get out, some world-
weary pundit eager to pontificate on life to young people who'd rather be
Rollerblading. Most of us, alas, will never be invited to sow our words of
wisdom among an audience of caps and gowns, but there's no reason we can't
entertain ourselves by composing a Guide to Life for Graduates.

I encourage anyone over 26 to try this and thank you for indulging my attempt.

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of '97:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The
long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the
rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering
experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not
understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust
me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way
you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you
really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're
behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing
this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.


Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The
most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with
their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you
won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on
your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself
too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are
everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what
other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be
nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold
on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in
Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will
philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe
you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it.
Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.
Mary Schmich



Book: James Mollison's "Where Children Sleep"

James Mollison traveled around the globe and took some incredibly eye-opening photos of children’s bedrooms. He then compiled them into a book, titled Where Children Sleep. Each pair of photographs is accompanied by an extended caption that tells the child’s story. The differences between each sleeping space is striking.

To help, visit Save the Children
To buy: Amazon


Food for Thought: Jaime Morrison Curtis

There is no "man's work." You can change a tire, build a fire, take out the trash, invest your savings, fix the plumbing, and so forth. Now, if a nice man wants to help you with those things, and you want his help, by all means take it. You have nothing to prove; I just don't want you to count on a male human handling things for you that you are entirely capable of handling yourself. 
Remember that most fairy tales were written by men. Some of the greatest writers of children's fables were male: the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, even Walt Disney. You are not a tiny princess awaiting rescue by a valiant man, a symbol of frailty and naivete, or the punch line in a morality tale. The women in those stories were crafted by a different sex at a different time for a different audience; these days you slay the dragon yourself. 
You are more than a footnote in someone else's story. Don't be "the other woman." She's always a quick side note in the great saga of another couple's love. Cast yourself as the lead in your own life, please. 
Take yourself on dates.A delicious restaurant, a visit to a museum, a matinee -  you are your own best company. 
Being intelligent, beautiful, wealthy, talented, witty, or powerful is meaningless if you are not also kind. 
These and more in Prudent Advice.


Ode to Dark (Skinned) Girls

From The Crunk Feminist Collective by rboylorn on 6/9/11

she waited
and in silence
never admitting
out loud
that she secretly wanted to be
brown but in a lighter shade
she would say it out loud
but in whispered tones
"make me white-like
damn near transparent
so that these people can see through me
instead of just past me…
make me
like the color of the earth I am
this skin,
this house to my soul
is only almost pretty
they say
and if I weren't so dark
I might be worth
but instead I am just
in the dark or in secret
or worn on your shoulder
an unnecessary accessory
creating your celebrity
teach me how to love
the color of fire
in the middle of its escape
skin and eyes round
and regal at once
You are beautiful
I am beautiful
the color of coffee with no cream
dark like the bittersweet chocolate of my dreams
caramel-coated coquette
honey dipped and full of vigor
full lipped and full bodied
dark-skinned and exquisite
majestic even
with your brown-black self!
Black is beautiful
You are beautiful
I am beautiful
We are beautiful

To read the entire blog post, click here.


"No One Loves a Feminist

I wrote this poem a while back. It was an attempt at replying to the following question from an ex-friend of mine: "You're not gay. You may be stubborn but you're pretty. You can get a man. So why the hell would you wanna be a feminist? No one loves a feminist." This poem, as with all my work, is a work in progress. But I used it for a class project and got positive feedback. So I thought I'd share.

When you’re born a girl in one of the world’s poorest countries,
You learn early on to fight in order to survive.
When government thugs attempt to murder your father for simply telling the truth,
You learn to be vocal.
When your grandfather is jailed and tortured because he disagreed with the government,
You learn to stand up for yourself.
When the spirit of many great women inhabits you,
You learn to be strong.
When your mother spends more time teaching you compassion and acceptance,
You learn to love others and embrace differences.
When you are constantly told what you can and cannot do because of your gender,
You learn to fight.

You learn to fight oppression to keep it from suffocating you.
You learn to fight racism and sexism,
So the world knows there is more to you than the labels assigned.
You learn to fight not only your own battles,
But help others fight theirs.
You learn to fight even when winning seems illogical.

See, I did not choose to become a feminist.
I did not choose to fight.
Born in the midst of this undeclared war,
There was not a choice to be made.

Alright, I gotta go get on my broom now. Got some bras that need burning and balls in need of busting.


Music: Common's "I Want You"

Vincent van Gogh, Starry Night on the Rhone

"Take a look at the moon, it reminds me of you / Hope the stars and the gods align me and you." - Common


Going Home Again: Day Three in Haiti

Motion Sickness, headaches, and politics. That was the story yesterday. The lack of roads here could make every outing a very exciting adventure for some and a nightmare from hell for others. I fall in the latter category. The theory is that roads aren't built in the certain neighborhoods in order to keep the masses out. What do I know?

Going Home Again: Day Two in Haiti

I went into the heart of Port-au-Prince today. My mom had to go find out about my grandfather's life insurance policy, which by the way is a whole other mess. Nothing is ever simple or easy in Haiti. Nothing. Anyway, the further I got into Port-au-Prince, the sadder, more depressed, and angry I got. Port-au-Prince seemed dirty, overcrowded, and ugly and all the roads and I mean all of them, are badly, badly damaged. The beautiful, soulful, vibrant, historic city I remember is gone. Port-au-Prince was never the Paris of anything, but it had pizzazz, a certain je-ne-sais-quoi or life to it. Now, even that is gone. It saddens me what the country's own people did to it. I know the earthquake took its toll, but some damages were man-made. Certain things should have been preserved. Certain places, like Champs de Mars deserved to be protected but people were too busy being wrapped in their own personal tragedies to take pride in anything worth their pride.There are so many people in Port-au-Prince. Way more people than I remember seeing in the city. I have been told that while some of these people really did lose their homes to the earthquake, many of them left their homes in the countryside or even in the capital, with the promise of free housing. So now they live in tents all over the damn city; tents placed anywhere and everywhere! The whole damn city looks like a refugee camp. The ridiculous amount of people plus the fact that many of the designated market places were destroyed during the earthquake, has resulted in people selling all kinds of things all over the place. This, combined with all the damn UN trucks and SUVs running wild, makes the city feel like a freaking nightmare.


Going Home Again: Day One in Haiti

"A nice smile, does not mean we are friends."
I am in Haiti, first time in eight years. While I am glad to be home again and hang out with my cousins, this return to the roots is bittersweet in every way since I am here for my grandfather's funeral. So, not necessarily a fun trip. Everyone says things are greatly different but I cannot attest to that quite yet. Besides the change at the airport (getting off in an actual terminal rather than on the runway and then riding the bus to a warehouse because the actual terminal/airport is still badly damaged from the earthquake) and a few other damaged walls and buildings, the people look about the same. There's always a football match (soccer game) to be watched and people to watch it. Music videos and commercials are of much better quality than what I remember, although the videos are over U.S. American and not in a very good way. Also, when did the Bloods gang make its way to Haiti?! And what is up with the time difference? We're currently an hour behind the UTC-5:00 due to observing year-round standard time. Keeps throwing me off.
Structurally, I haven't seen much change, but that's probably because I haven't been to the heart of Port-au-Prince yet, just to the outskirts of the city. As the plane was descending I did see the damaged Port-au-Prince Cathedral as well as the national palace and many many tents. I have been told that they have started demolishing the palace but I could not see that from the plane. I have also seen a great deal of foreigners (civil and military), a new (to me) U.S. embassy (though fortress/palace seems more appropriate), and way too many U.N. tanks, police cars (?) and compounds to count. I thought the U.N. was here to help out, on the sidelines, behind the scenes? There in-your-face nature seems more like a full-on occupation. How can a country ever learn to stand on its own two feet if it is continually invaded and occupied (U.S. in 1915-1934, again in 1994, and U.S./UN 2004-present)? I shall go into the heart of the city tomorrow (maybe). Until then, I'll be here in the hills, enjoying this absolutely glorious island breeze behind the (jail-like) safety of multiple iron gates.

Aside: After so many years in the U.S., it feels odd having people serve me again... makes me quite uncomfortable.

Airport Rant (Delayed Flight)

On Airport Security:

I feel like every time someone has to go through the horror that is airport security, Osama Bin Ladin is in a cave somewhere laughing his culo off. The terrorist act was not the bombing of the towers. No, it is the fact that we never got over it. It has been almost ten years now and we have gotten to the point where we are terrorizing 6 year-olds and fumbling men's junk. So, my question to you is this: Are we really safer now? Countless of Iraqi, American and Afghan lives later, do you feel any safer? Because going through airport security sure does not make me feel like we are winning Bush's war.

On Gas Prices:

I am personally offende whenever I have to fill up my tank. I mean, $3.89 per gallon? That's offensive. Most annoying of all, are all the other prices that go up because of gas prices, but will never again go down. My poor little Toyota which used to only cost $23 for a fill-up on a good day, now cost me a disgusting offensive $40+. And I know I have it really good compared to most people. But, jeez! I guess I could take up biking, but it is a mighty long way from my apartment to my parent's house (338 miles to be exact).

On Education Cuts:

I was utterly surprised a few weeks ago when I checked my financial aid award for next year. There was the usual: my Expected Financial Contribution was the same, the Cost of Attendance was as expected a whole lot more than the previous years. My financial aid award however had been slashed in half. And this is despite actually improving my grades and GPA significantly during the last two semesters. I gave the office of financial affairs a call, just to find out what I already knew. With budget cuts, the poor economy, there was no money to help students. With all the cuts, I wonder just how long before the government stops subsidizing education altogether. This is unfortunate because many people, including myself, are only able to afford a college education in great part due to the help from both the federal and state governments. Additionally, anyone who values democracy know the importante of an educated youth to the movement. But again, why would would anyone, in their right mind, not cut from education? It's such a waste of funds. China is going to own us in a few years anyway and no one likes an educated laborer.


Claude A. Rosier

I never thought my grandfather would die of natural causes. Apparently very few people did. As we called around to inform family and friends of his death, most people asked, “Who killed him,” rather than “how did he die.” I suppose I’m not surprised. Arrested in 1966 for his political views, my grandfather spent eleven years in prison, under both Papa Doc and Baby Doc. My mom was six years old when they took him away, my uncle Ilitch, a newborn. He was tortured and starved, but he lived to tell the world about it, publishing his memoir, Triangle de la Mort: Journal d’un Prisonnier Politique Haïtien 1966-1977, in 2003. Since his release, he has co-founded a non-profit organization for former political prisoners, friends and relatives of the disappeared, worked at L’Ecole Normale Supérieure in Haiti and tirelessly campaigned fought for human rights. This past January, upon the return of Baby Doc to Haiti, from exile, my grandfather and other former political prisoners officially pressed charges against the former dictator.
"The mistake of all dictators and apprentice dictators, despite the lessons of centuries of history, is their stubborn belief in violence as the best permanent solution to tame the masses.  If this were the case, Nero, Hitler, Mussolini, Duvalier, Prosper Avril, Cedras and all the others would have never known political failure. The masses, even those identified as backwards, can endure for a while the violence of others, but they always end up revolting and tearing to shreds the infernal machine that is dictatorship." - Claude Rosier

Ever since I could remember, everything I have done has been to please my grandfather. He was the one person in the world whom I loved without complexities and whose approval I always sought. He continuously encouraged me, giving me books, editing my poems and short stories, and fighting alongside me whenever I needed support. Although his death is a huge loss to our family, Haiti, and the global fight for human rights, I cannot say I am sad today. My grandfather did more in his lifetime for his fellow men and women then most people could ever do in several lifetimes. So no, I am not sad. Rather, I celebrate his life, his mission, and his legacy. I celebrate, for I know in my veins, flow the blood a hero. The many people he inspired will keep carry the torch. He will live through us, through me, through my life’s work and purpose. And as long as I live, I shall strive to make him proud.


Death of my Hero

"Je t'aime sans savoir comment, ni quand, ni d'ou.
Je t'aime directement sans problèmes ni orgueil. 
Je t'aime ainsi car je ne sais aimer autrement. "
- Pablo Neruda (Sonnet XVII)

Pictured above, Claude Rosier with my mother, long time before I was born. 

Rest in peace Claude Antoine Rosier,
1932 - 2011 
Beloved husband, father, and grandfather, 
Author, former political prisoner, and militant
My grandfather, mentor and hero.


Food for Thought: Riverbend

“We’ve learned that terrorism isn’t actually the act of creating terror. It isn’t the act of killing innocent people and frightening others… no, you see, that’s called a ‘liberation.’ […] The war on terror is a joke… Madrid was proof of that last week… Iraq is proof of that everyday. I hope someone feels safer, because we certainly don’t.” - Riverbend from Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog from Iraq


Food for Thought: Tough Choices and Coin Tosses

“When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you, but because, in that brief moment with the coin is in the air, you suddenly know what you are hoping for.” 


The Codes of Gender

Communication scholar Sut Jhally applies the late sociologist Erving Goffman's groundbreaking analysis of advertising to the contemporary commercial landscape in this film about gender as a ritualized cultural performance. Jhally explores Goffman's central claim that the way the body is displayed in advertising communicates normative ideas about masculinity and femininity and is certain to inspire discussion and debate across a range of disciplines.


Food for Thought: Stuff No One Told Me

"Porn movies and Disney are responsible for the most frustrated human beings I know." - Alex Noriega

Also, if you get the chance, check out Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein. I just finished it, it's rather interesting.


I Wish You Enough

I read this poem a while back and it kind of stuck with me. I tried my best to find its original author but things just have a way of getting lost on the internet. Oh well, courtesy of [whoever wrote this]:

I Wish You Enough

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough "Hello's" to get you through the final "Goodbye."

Food for Thought: Stuff No One Told Me

"Someday you will miss today." - Alex Noriega
Check out Putain de Temps (Time's a %^%#!)


CNN's "Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door"

A few hours ago, I caught CNN's "Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door." The hour-long Soledad O'Brien documentary was about the opposition to a proposed mosque in Murfreesboro, TN. It saddened me to see how much bigotry, hatred, and xenophobia exist in the heart of some Americans. All these right-wing religious zealots were speaking vehemently about the mosque, claiming if it's allowed to be built, it will cause Sharia Law to be implemented in their town [really folks?], women will be oppressed, it will cause an increase in traffic etc. When those reasons failed, they went as far as claiming Islam wasn't a religion [See how much the American education system has failed?]. They went as far as writing hate messages on the sign announcing the upcoming mosque, burning the construction equipment at the site, and firing shots to scare the away the Muslim people. They also claimed all Muslims are terrorists. Seems to be the only one doing the terrorizing are the white-americans in this story. But after all, this is Small-Town, Tennessee, what else can we expect? The whole thing reminded me of the hatred, prejudice, and bigotry black people in the United States (especially in the south) experienced during the Civil Rights era. The saddest part of it all, was the black man who filed a lawsuit to prevent the building of the mosque. Really sir? I guess he must have a short memory or maybe he was asleep during the history lessons when he was in school. Or maybe what they say is true: the bullied today will be the bully tomorrow? Either way, shame on you people of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Shame on you!

Books that might enlighten you:
- Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
- Baghdad Burning by Riverbend

The Vagina Monologues: A Review

I have finally had the chance to attend a presentation of The Vagina Monologues. This showing has been going on at the University of Florida for the last four years and truthfully, I have no good reason why I've never attended. But better late than never, right? Along with V-Day, this year's beneficiary was Peaceful Paths Domestic Abuse Network. A member of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the organization provides services like emergency shelter and batterer's intervention programming, while serving domestic abuse victims in Alachua, Bradford, and Union counties of Florida. The Vagina Monologues is an episodic play written by playwright and feminist Eve Ensler in 1996. The play is based on interviews Ensler conducted with 200 women.  The women were of a wide age range, various multicultural background, sexual preferences, etc. The interviews covered topics like rape, masturbation, mutilation, orgasm, birth, etc.

The Introduction: Three women discussed how the play came to life as well as the different reactions of the women interviewed. The introduction of the many different names given to the vagina was both funny and interesting. I reminded me of growing up in Haiti and thinking "vagin" was a bad word or at least a word reserved only for grown women.

Hair: When I read this title in the program I thought to myself "What exactly does hair have to do with vaginas?" Well... It's actually a conversation I've had with many of my girl friends. Oh the many things society (well, mostly the porn industry actually) imposes upon us women and our vaginas. It reminded me of the scene in the first Sex and the City movie, in which Samantha is horrified by Miranda's hairy bikini line, and Samantha suggests to Miranda that this might have been one of the reasons why her husband cheated on her.

The Flood: This was based on the interview with a 72-year-old woman. This scene was both charming and extremely sad. Hearing how unaware, embarrassed, frightened, and ashamed this poor old woman was of her vagina was quite sad.  Also, the actress who portrayed this woman's story, Kim Mead, was absolutely brilliant.

The Vagina Workshop: I liked hearing how this woman was liberated and she was taught to please herself. Much like the woman in The Flood, this woman was previously unaware of the existence of her vagina as well as her clitoris. To hear that she was waiting for someone [a man] to one day come and discover her vagina and please her clitoris proved to me just how successfully women have been taught to shy away from sexual pleasure.

My Angry Vagina: This was possibly my favorite scene of the bunch. This monologue basically gave a voice to vaginas everywhere. Here's video of the monologue:

The Vagina Monologues has been criticized for its negative portrayals of male-female sexual relationships. I found that Because He Liked to Look At It did a good job of including a man in the vagina conversation. It has also been criticized because of the representation of brutal sexual encounters. I thought these representations (My Vagina Was My Village and Crooked Braid) were necessary due to the very high statistics of violence against women worldwide. I thought it was a fair representation. In my opinion, it was not making the case that all men are violent and hate women, but rather that there are many women who have suffered violence from the hands of males. On the other hand, I agree with the criticism that The Little Coochi Snorcher That Could represents a bias. The inclusion of a monologue, which describes an instance of female-female statutory rape, in a play that speaks out so loudly against violence against women, makes no sense to me.

Overall, I enjoyed the play. I appreciated what it was meant to achieve and the fact that so many people have benefited from it. It is definitely something I will see again and next time I am definitely bringing a few friends along.


"Your child's future was the first to go with budget cuts..."

Highlights of House GOP Budget Cuts:
--Cut around $60 billion from domestic programs, including education, environmental protection, and community services.
--Block money to implement President Obama's health care overhaul law.
--Bar federal funds for Planned Parenthood.
--Block federal aid to overseas groups that provide abortions or counsel women about them.
--Cut the Social Security Administration, which might force the agency to furlough workers.
--Prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from imposing regulations curbing emissions of gases that cause global warming.
--Cut $747 million in food aid for poor pregnant women and women with children up to age 5, education.
                                                                        -- from The Associated Press

Music: Adele's "First Love"

You know when you're in a relationship and you feel like you're suffocating, like the only way to maintain your sanity is to get the hell outta dodge? And if not a romantic relationship, maybe a friendship or even a job, etc. I know this is a familiar feeling for me. Well, Adele beautifully put this feeling to music in "First Love" from her first album "19."

 Adele - First Love .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine

So little to say but so much time,
Despite my empty mouth the words are in my mind.
Please wear the face, the one where you smile,
Because you lighten up my heart when I start to cry.

Forgive me first love, but I'm tired.
I need to get away to feel again.
Try to understand why, don't get so close to change my mind.
Please wipe that look out of your eyes, it's bribing me to doubt myself;
Simply, it's tiring.

This love has dried up and stayed behind,
And if I stay I'll be alive,
Then choke on words I'd always hide.
Excuse me first love, but we're through.
I need to taste the kiss from someone knew.

Forgive me first love, but I'm too tired.
I'm bored to say the least and I, I lack desire.
Forgive me first love,
Forgive me first love,
Forgive me first love,
Forgive me first love,
Forgive me,
Forgive me first love,
Forgive me first love

Food for Thought: Marilyn Sewell

"Women have gone within themselves to find their own sources of spiritual truth. We didn't have much of an alternative, really. Where were we to go for meaning, for identity? To books written with the assumption that the male perspective is also the human perspective? To the arts, where woman is pictured as Madonna, vigin, or whore? To the mass media where she is seen as an object for consumption?" Marilyn Sewell


Food for Thought: Audre Lorde

"Wherever the bird with no feet flew, she found trees with no limbs." - Audre Lorde


Food for Thought: Rita Mae Brown

"I finally figured out the only reason to be alive is to enjoy it." - Rita Mae Brown


For Colored Girls

This week I'm re-reading Ntozake Shange's choreopoem For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow is Enuf and My God, what a beautiful work of art! One of my favorite poems from the collection is "Toussaint." Being born and raised in Haiti, I am very proud of my cultural and historial heritage. To me, "Toussaint" is the love/thank you letter I wish I could write to Toussaint Louverture. I also really loved "No more love poems #1, 2, 3 and 4." "Sorry" is another favorite of mine. But "Somebody almost walked off wid alla my stuff" definitely stole my heart. So yeah, I'm practically in love with Ntozake Shange. I only wish she would come back to UF before I graduate so I can take a class with her... Fingers crossed.

Food for Thought: Rose Kennedy

"Birds sing after a storm. Why shouldn't people feel as free to delight in whatever sunlight remains to them?" - Rose Kennedy


Food for Thought: G. K. Chesterton

"Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed." -- G. K. Chesterton


Words That Don't Exist In the English Language (Part 2)

1. Toska
Russian – Vladmir Nabokov describes it best: “No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody of something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.”
2. Mamihlapinatapei
Yagan (indigenous language of Tierra del Fuego) – “the wordless, yet meaningful look shared by two people who both desire to initiate something but are both reluctant to start” (Altalang.com)
3. Jayus
Indonesian – “A joke so poorly told and so unfunny that one cannot help but laugh” (Altalang.com)
Photo:  craigallyn
4. Iktsuarpok
Inuit – “To go outside to check if anyone is coming.” (Altalang.com)
5. Litost
Czech – Milan Kundera, author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, remarked that “As for the meaning of this word, I have looked in vain in other languages for an equivalent, though I find it difficult to imagine how anyone can understand the human soul without it.” The closest definition is a state of agony and torment created by the sudden sight of one’s own misery.
6. Kyoikumama
Japanese – “A mother who relentlessly pushes her children toward academic achievement” (Altalang.com)
7. Tartle
Scottish – The act of hestitating while introducing someone because you’ve forgotten their name. (Altalang.com)
8. Ilunga
Tshiluba (Southwest Congo) – A word famous for its untranslatability, most professional translators pinpoint it as the stature of a person “who is ready to forgive and forget any first abuse, tolerate it the second time, but never forgive nor tolerate on the third offense.” (Altalang.com)
9. Prozvonit
Czech – This word means to call a mobile phone and let it ring once so that the other person will call back, saving the first caller money. In Spanish, the phrase for this is “Dar un toque,” or, “To give a touch.” (Altalang.com)
10. Cafuné
Brazilian Portuguese – “The act of tenderly running one’s fingers through someone’s hair.” (Altalang.com)
11. Schadenfreude
German – Quite famous for its meaning that somehow other languages neglected to recognize, this refers to the feeling of pleasure derived by seeing another’s misfortune. I guess “America’s Funniest Moments of Schadenfreude” just didn’t have the same ring to it.
12. Torschlusspanik
German – Translated literally, this word means “gate-closing panic,” but its contextual meaning refers to “the fear of diminishing opportunities as one ages.” (Altalang.com)
13. Wabi-Sabi
Japanese – Much has been written on this Japanese concept, but in a sentence, one might be able to understand it as “a way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay.” (Altalang.com)
14. Dépaysement
French – The feeling that comes from not being in one’s home country.
15. Tingo
Pascuense (Easter Island) – Hopefully this isn’t a word you’d need often: “the act of taking objects one desires from the house of a friend by gradually borrowing all of them.” (Altalang.com)
Hyggelig, Photo:  Stormberg AS
16. Hyggelig
Danish – Its “literal” translation into English gives connotations of a warm, friendly, cozy demeanor, but it’s unlikely that these words truly capture the essence of a hyggelig; it’s likely something that must be experienced to be known. I think of good friends, cold beer, and a warm fire. (Altalang.com)
17. L’appel du vide
French – “The call of the void” is this French expression’s literal translation, but more significantly it’s used to describe the instinctive urge to jump from high places.
18. Ya’aburnee
Arabic – Both morbid and beautiful at once, this incantatory word means “You bury me,” a declaration of one’s hope that they’ll die before another person because of how difficult it would be to live without them.
19. Duende
Spanish – While originally used to describe a mythical, spritelike entity that possesses humans and creates the feeling of awe of one’s surroundings in nature, its meaning has transitioned into referring to “the mysterious power that a work of art has to deeply move a person.” There’s actually a nightclub in the town of La Linea de la Concepcion, where I teach, named after this word. (Altalang.com)
20. Saudade
Portuguese – One of the most beautiful of all words, translatable or not, this word “refers to the feeling of longing for something or someone that you love and which is lost.” Fado music, a type of mournful singing, relates to saudade. (Altalang.com)